Opinion

Rimac Says It Will Let Bugatti Be Bugatti

Illustration for article titled Rimac Says It Will Let Bugatti Be Bugatti

Photo: Bugatti

Now that the deal everyone knew was coming has finally been acknowledged, we can all start making assumptions about what Rimac and Porsche are planning to do with Bugatti. And if you feared the Croatian startup might start slapping red oval badges on cars like the Nevera, you can breath a sigh of relief, because Rimac is going to let Bugatti do its thing — for a little while, anyway.

This is based on comments relayed to Ars Technica by Mate Rimac, the founder of the automaker of the same name. In the immediate term, the Chiron and its perfect wheels aren’t going anywhere, and you shouldn’t expect one with an electric motor. In fact, you should expect at least one more Bugatti purely powered by dinosaur remains. From the interview:

“We will not just recycle what we have, we will not like just restyle the Chiron to make a new car, or just hybridize the Chiron. We are developing a complete new product from the ground up—everything—because we think that’s the best way to go, and that product will still have a combustion engine,” Rimac said.

Will Bugatti eventually go all-electric? Of course, because practically everyone will at some point. (For that reason, it always amuses me when a manufacturer like Opel or Cupra pitches themselves as an “electric brand.” That identity is going to be meaningless in five years.) But what might actually make this good for Bugatti is that Rimac and Porsche aren’t merely looking to electrify — they’re looking to build out the marque’s repertoire.

Bugatti doesn’t need a slate of models across various body styles like Porsche; they’re too high end for that, and the Chiron (and the Veyron before it) already does a fine job of selling the brand to the uber-rich. Still, Volkswagen has flirted with giving Bugatti more to work with over the last few decades. Like the four-door, all-wheel-drive Galibier concept from 2009, which seemed destined for production but never made it. Or the strange EB218 concept that came a decade earlier and was powered by a W18 engine.

The Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed 1999 Bugatti EB218 concept. There’s a W18 in there — what gave it away?

The Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed 1999 Bugatti EB218 concept. There’s a W18 in there — what gave it away?
Photo: Bugatti

I don’t expect Bugatti to greenlight anything as ridiculous as the EB218 in its new corporate form, but the brand has always been missing that hyper-luxe sedan. It’s likelier we’ll get an SUV, but the important point here is that Mate Rimac is looking to take Bugatti beyond the singular hypercar approach.

“However, we are thinking long-term and we’re going to add this amazing brand, which has a lot of diversity in its heritage, can be used to make products that are not only hypercars, and they’re the opportunities to make very exciting, different cars that are very strongly electrified, and fully electric.”

Rimac followed that up by saying that while Bugatti EVs will emerge within the decade, by the end of it, the company will still offer something that includes an internal-combustion engine. All things considered, that seems like a pretty respectable way to close out that chapter of a storied legacy.


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